HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A Houston woman who has been missing for nearly four weeks was "fearful of" the man police have now charged in her murder, according to her mother.
Houston resident Alex Jerome Haggerty, 36, has been charged in the murder of missing 37-year-old Houston woman, Brittany Burfield. Detectives named Haggerty as a suspect in the disappearance of Burfield who was last seen on June 25th. Haggerty was also charged on a family violence charge on last Thursday, July 12th. That same day, police recovered items, including clothing, belonging to missing woman Brittany Burfield from the property where he was living on Drew Street in Houston's Third Ward. Haggerty appeared in front of a judge on Friday, and has a bond set at $15,000.
Burfield's mother, Tricia Valentine, said she met Haggerty not long before Burfield went missing. Valentine says Haggerty went by his middle name, Jerome.
“I met him through Brittany," said Valentine. "She tried to help him. Brittany is a sucker for the underdog. She always has been. She’s always tried to help the underdog. And he was a friend of a friend of hers, and she tried to help him out, and it got her in trouble.”
Valentine said Burfield knew Haggerty as an acquaintance, having met him only a couple of weeks before her disappearance.
“She found out he had been in prison for fifteen years and had just gotten out, and she quickly became fearful of him," said Valentine. "It was a bad situation.”
Valentine told FOX 26 News last Friday, July 13th that she is confident police have the right person in the disappearance of her daughter.
Haggerty was released from prison early on parole in the fall of 2017, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He had been serving a twenty-year sentence on an aggravated robbery charge. His parole was set to end in 2021.
Haggerty was arrested on July 12th on a felony family assault charge after he was accused of strangling a woman he was dating in May, according to the criminal complaint.
A family member of Haggerty told FOX 26 he had been living in a tent on the family's Third Ward property after being released from prison. Burfield's personal belongings were found in the area of that tent, according to police, who brought in dogs to help search the area on Friday.
Texas EquuSearch spent Thursday and Friday searching vacant lots and abandoned homes across a large area of Houston's Third Ward in hopes of recovering any clues that could lead them to Burfield.
“Today, we’re hoping to find Brittany," said Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller. "Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re gonna find her in a way that the family wants her found. It doesn’t appear that we’re going to bring her home safe.”
Burfield, 37, was last seen when she stopped by her mother's home in Sugar Land on June 25. Her car was later found at a gas station in the Westchase District of southwest Houston. Burfield lived alone at an apartment complex in southwest Houston, according to her mother.
In an HPD press conference on Thursday, July 19th, Brittany's mother broke down in tears, pleading with the public to please find Brittany, "I’m grateful for the citizens of Houston who have taken time off their jobs to search for my daughter. I want to end by saying, 'Help us bring Brittany home!"